Happiness can mean very different things to different people. It could be financial security, success at work, contentment in your relationship, self-assuredness, or even a good hair day. And while we're sitting here trying to define the simple term, we're racing against the clock of time to proclaim from the rooftops... er, our social media platforms, that we're so insanely happy.
But at the end of the day, being happy is such an annoying benchmark to reach, isn't it?
It's as if we hold ourselves to this standard of so-called happiness, and if we're anything below it, well- we're doing something wrong. It's an interesting predicament that we find ourselves in though. How often do you wrestle with the fact that you aren't truly happy? That simple fact alone is enough to prove that we aren't in the right spot, because if we were then we wouldn't be questioning it.
And then we're faced with the inevitable follow-up: what are we supposed to do about it?
I've found that in this delicate stage of my early twenties, my biggest stressor is simply my constant lack of direction. I often find myself feeling "stuck" so to speak, like I'm a car in neutral- just gliding through my days constantly questioning if this is where I'm supposed to be.
Is this the right job for me? Is this the man I'm going to marry? Am I forming good financial habits? Am I a good friend? Does this shirt look good with these pants? Does this Instagram post fit my feed? The serious qualms of a twenty-three year old fashion-obsessed working girl, and let me tell you- it's a rough life!
But in all seriousness, do you ever feel like you too are simply coasting by each day, going through the motions of your life before suddenly realizing that you've turned into that awful and depressed "grown-up" that you used to hear horror stories about? You know, the one that leads an overly exhausted life while running on coffee and pasta desperately living for the weekends? Raise your hand if that's you...
*Throws arms up in the air*
Whether you're feeling uninspired at work, unmotivated towards progressing in your career, deflated from a recent break-up, or simply don't know why you feel the way you feel- I'm here to tell you that it's OK not to be OK!
I've come up with a few quick-fixes for the stuck in a rut bug, because every girl deserves to pamper herself-- and what better time than when you're feeling down?
1. UNPLUG & UNWIND
I may feel uninspired from time to time, but let it be known that I have totally nailed the unplugging fix.
Ask any of my friends, I am the uncrowned Queen of unplugging and finding that much-needed "Me Time", or as I like to call it: Alexis Time. I think it's important to first identify what that looks like for you specifically whether that's curling up with a good book, baking cookies from scratch, or having a serious sweat sesh at the gym- and then embrace your alone time in absolute peace.
For me, it looks like cozying up in warm blankets, eating Thai food takeout in said blankets, and binge-watching a sultry teen drama on Netflix. I kid you not - putting my phone on silent and getting too emotionally attached to TV characters is my happy place. However if I'm feeling ambitious, I'll draw up a bubble bath and transfer my Netflix watching to a water-safe distance-- see image above.
The key here is to unplug from whatever it is that's making you feel stuck. Maybe you're off balance because you've been on the go far too much, and you just need to relax with some quality You time. Or perhaps you're just in need of a recharge, getting the self-produced boost you didn't know you had within you. Whatever it is, identify your happy place and then reward yourself to a Monday night of baking banana bread or a Saturday where you don't leave your house and get to kick back in your PJs all day long. Sometimes unplugging to recharge our mind and soul is truly the best medicine.
Tip: Adding a bottle of wine to the mix is also good medicine.
2. PICK UP A NEW HOBBY
It may seem counterintuitive to put your creative energy into a new task when you're feeling completely unmotivated in all the other areas in your life, but I invite you to give it a try. You never know what kind of inspiration you may spark by finding the joy in something totally new.
Here are some ideas for a hobby to pick up that- who knows- may just inspire you to do greatness:
- Cook or bake a new dish each week.
- Find a genre of podcasts that interest you, and listen throughout your workday.
- Try a new form of exercise that you haven't done before such as yoga, pilates, or barre.
- Pick up a paintbrush and release some tension through art therapy.
- Start a blog and get your wild-running thoughts onto paper -- hey, it worked for me ;)
3. START A NEW PROJECT
Similar to picking up a new hobby, starting a new project and seeing it through to the end could ignite a new spring of motivation.
Some ideas for projects to start on:
- Rearrange a room in your house -- this is my #1 go-t0, right after my Alexis Time. If you know me well, you know I rearrange my bedroom at least 10 times a year. If I'm feeling uninspired, a simple feng shui goes a long way. I'll even rearrange my desk at work from time to time, switching the way my computer screens face, moving around my accessories, and even rearranging drawers. It works!
- Thrift an entire outfit for an upcoming event, such as a wedding, weekend out with the girls, or dinner date. The challenge could be fun and exciting while also helping to take your mind off of whatever it is that's got you feeling stuck.
- Set aside a weekend to DIY a project. Visit this DIY Pinterest board for some inspiration, and get to work!
- Start a website. It may seem like a daunting task, but trust me -- if I can do it, anyone can do it! My first blog was hosted on Wordpress, and this new website is hosted by Squarespace- both of which are insanely easy to use! In my young & millenial professional opinion, everyone should have their own website, whether it's a personal blog, online resume, or a simple link back to your social accounts.
- Learn a new language. This is forever on my t0-do list, and hopefully one day I'll get around to it. Una niña puede soñar.
4. CHECK IN WITH YOUR HEALTH
Typically the state of my mind is closely connected to the state of my body and overall wellness. When I'm eating right, getting the right amount of sleep, and exercising regularly I tend to feel happier. And on the flip side of that, when I'm eating like garbage, staying up way too late, and skipping my workouts I get low-key depressed and pick on myself to an unhealthy degree, making the cycle truly erratic. Sound familiar?
If you're feeling down, try giving yourself a wellness once-over. Here are some general questions to ask yourself:
- Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night?
- Are you drinking about 8 glasses of water each day?
- Are you eating a balanced diet?
- Are you exercising regularly?
- Are you meditating on a regular basis, giving your mind the proper time to rest and recharge?
Figure out which areas of your health and wellness need some fine-tuning, and focus on improving yourself one day at a time. Don't freak out if you answered no to every question above because guess what: so did I! I am 100% guilty of putting everything else before my health -- my job, my relationships, my blog, and my Netflix watching habit (sorry, sleep). But needless to say, there are definitely some weeks where I answer yes to all those questions and there is no doubt about how energized, confident, and fueled I feel.
When you take care of your body and your mind, you'll be able to take care of business. See what I did there?
5. OPEN YOUR BIBLE
Whenever I'm lacking direction, a common correlation is typically my coinciding spiritual drought. When I'm reading my bible regularly, I feel strong and confident while full of guidance and grace. When I'm feeling lost, confused, doubtful, and scared -- my bible is typically gaining a thin layer of dust.
My advice for getting out of your rut? Give all your problems up to God, and pray about where you are, what you're doing, and where He's leading you.
Ask for guidance in this journey and for God to extend out His hand for you to take and follow. I promise you, though it may not be an immediate answer that will be explicitly clear for you to understand and digest, God will never steer you in the wrong direction.
As stuck as you may feel right now, as lost as you may think you are -- take a deep breath and relax, because girl, you're exactly where God wants you. Maybe that job didn't work out, but it prepared you in some way for the next one. Maybe the boy you thought was the one turned out to be your newest ex, but trust me, your future husband is being molded into the man of your dreams right at this moment, and you will meet him when the time is just right.
God knows what He's doing, and He will not leave you. He won't give you a situation you can't handle, so as hard as it may be right now, be GRATEFUL for this hardship that you're going through because it's making you into the woman you're destined to be. When we switch our mindset to be grateful for the experiences we encounter, we'll slowly start to see that all the closed doors and missed opportunities are actually blessings in disguise.
Feeling stuck or at a standstill is just a part of life. Not every phase is going to be a monumental moment of greatness or a pivotal period of growth, but we must always be grateful for each day, for it truly is a blessing to be alive and well. We may find ourselves feeling uninspired, but don't do yourself a disservice by living your life in neutral. Kick it into gear, because our days are numbered and we owe it to ourselves to go into each day with our high-heeled foot on the gas.